AASA Urges Congress to End D.C. Voucher Program

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Many Americans are unaware that every year a very small portion of their tax dollars are directed towards a school voucher program operated in the District of Columbia. This program, known as the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, has been in existence since 2004 and almost 200 million dollars have been directed to D.C. students, so they can attend private, predominantly parochial, schools with taxpayer funds. Given its unique relationship to Congress, the D.C. voucher program is the most studied voucher program in the nation, yet all four of the congressionally mandated USED studies that have analyzed the D.C. voucher program have concluded that it did not significantly improve reading or math achievement. The studies also indicate that many of the students in the voucher program are less likely to have access to key services such as ESL programs, learning supports, special education supports and services, and counselors than students who are not part of the program. Moreover, the D.C. program administrators have struggled to provide accurate information to parents about the quality of the participating private schools, certify the schools met basic safe and health standards, and ensure the program operated with basic accountability measures and quality controls. It fails to offer D.C. students better educational resources, greater opportunities for academic achievement, or adequate accountability to taxpayers.

In July, the Senate committee which oversees the reauthorization of the D.C. voucher program, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, held a field hearing in Wisconsin praising the Milwaukee voucher program and the D.C. voucher program. AASA is deeply concerned that the Committee will attempt to expand the D.C. voucher program during this reauthorization and we sent this letter to the Committee today to express our firm opposition to the continuation of this failing program. 

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